International Women’s Day on campus

In celebration of its 100th anniversary, various events were held to reflect on current issues facing women

The Picture to End Violence exhibit held last Tuesday at Zappas featured various portraits of men opposed to violence against women.
The Picture to End Violence exhibit held last Tuesday at Zappas featured various portraits of men opposed to violence against women.

Students may be surprised to learn of the inequalities women still face, according to Queen’s law professor Kathleen Lahey.

While women have practically doubled their labour force participation rate since the 1960s, their market income, which includes any income and benefits from the private sphere, has remained low.

“Right now women receive 36.2 per cent of all marketing incomes in Canada. The shocking thing about this figure is that it has barely changed since 1998. It’s been 36 per cent since 1998, and in 2008 it ‘jumped’ to 36.2,” she said.

Lahey said this in reference to the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, which happened on Tuesday.

Lahey said working women with university degrees in the 1980s would’ve faced a smaller gender wage gap than the one that existed in 2008.

“In 2008, on average a woman with a university degree earned $68.30 for every $100 a man with a university degree earned. In the late 1980s, she would have earned at least $69.60 for every $100 a man with a university degree made,” she said, adding that most people are not aware of this income inequality because of the discrepancy between available statistics.

“People assumed that women gained equality in Canada, but there is such a lag between time statistics are gathered and when they are published. By the time figures are published, the world has changed,” Lahey said, adding that her most recent statistics are from 2008.

“We are living in an unknown present tense.”

Historically, International Women’s Day began as a celebration of the women’s labour movement. The movement led to an increase in the number of women in the paid workforce beginning in the 1860s and 1870s—a few decades before the first international women’s day in 1911.

Lahey said that International Women’s Day creates a focus in the public sphere to help people remember what types of barriers still exist for women.

“It affirms the fact that there’s been a historically long women’s movement, and it provides an opportunity to take another look at what people mean by equality and see how equality is genuinely achieved,” Lahey said.

Michelle LaMarche, education and communications coordinator of Kingston Interval house, was part of the organizing committee that planned the Picture an End to Violence event.

The Tuesday event was in celebration of International Women’s Day. It featured an exhibition of different portraits of men who are opposed to violence against women. Photos include Liberal MPP John Gerretsen, Kingston City Councilor Ed Smith and Gaels men’s hockey coach Brett Gibson.

The Picture to End Violence event aimed to both raise awareness and get people talking about issues relating to inequality and women, LaMarche said.

“Violence against women isn’t this sexy issue … people need to understand how issues facing women are all connected to inequality,” she said.

“There is a growing recognition that men need to be a part of this work, speak to other men and act as a voice and say ‘this is not okay,” LaMarche said, adding that inequality is the base of any issue that affects women.

“There will continue to be violence against women as long as there’s inequality,” she said, adding that patriarchy, politics and globalization are some factors that help perpetrate inequality and the issues facing women.

According to LaMarche, Canada’s current federal government has not done a lot in terms of empowering women.

“The fact that we don’t have universal childcare is appalling and means a woman can’t get out and work,” she said.

“They can’t make it on their own and are economically dependant on a system that doesn’t work.”

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